The chink in Aston Villa’s armor?

PetrovFootball FanCast columnist Tom Jones contemplates whether Aston Villa are short of a goal scoring midfielder.

Aston Villa head into this weekend’s Premier League encounter with Everton at Goodison Park in 7th place but short of goals. They have only scored 13 goals in 9 games in the league this season, and one reason for that is the lack of goals that Villa get from midfield. Bulgarian Stiliyan Petrov has admitted that himself and fellow midfielder Steve Sidwell need to get amongst the goals sooner rather than later. But is Aston Villa’s lack of goals from midfield the missing ingredient that is preventing them from seriously challenging for a top four place?

The loss of Gareth Barry to Manchester City in the summer meant that Villa lost one of their main goal scoring threats from midfield. Barry contributed 22 league goals over the last three seasons and the present Villa midfielders have been unable to fill the hole that has been left as yet. Every team above Villa in the Premiership table have scored more goals than them this season, and their 13 goals represents the third lowest total in the top half. Of those goals a high proportion have come from set-pieces and Gabby Agbonlahor is taking up most of the slack having hit the back of the net 5 times this season.

This weekend Villa come up against Everton and Australia midfielder Tim Cahill, who behind Chelsea’s Frank Lampard has consistently been one of the top scoring midfielders in the Premier League. Since moving to Everton in 2004, Cahill has scored 38 league goals and Villa’s Stiliyan Petrov has admitted that he needs to contribute more goals. Petrov told the Daily Express “myself and ‘Siddy’ haven’t been on the score sheet, so we need to produce more. But the way our game is set up, we have enough players to score goals. If we can help them from midfield with something, we will be very happy.” Would further goals from midfield take Villa up another level and turn them into real Champions League contenders?

The way things are going at the moment I think that Villa will have a good season but will struggle to break into the top four. With Ashley Young’s quality delivery and the aerial threat that they posses, Villa will always be a threat from set-pieces and Agbonlahor has a good chance of reaching 20 league goals this season. But Villa need their second striker, whether that’s Carew or Heskey, and their midfielders to contribute more goals for the team. The two goals scored by Villa midfielders this season is simply not enough and is much lower than any other top Premier League team.

But can their current midfielders, Young, Milner, Sidwell and Petrov, get amongst the goals more often than they are currently? Are those four capable of scoring say 20 goals between them and turning Villa from a good side into a very good side. Or is a goal scoring midfielder the one ingredient that Aston Villa currently lack and the one aspect that is preventing them from making that major step up the table?